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Should Landlords Allow Pets in Their Houses for Rent in Georgia?

Should Landlords Allow Pets in Their Houses for Rent in Georgia?

As a property owner, you're always looking at pros and cons. After all, doing additional updates on your property, like adding a patio or replacing old appliances, involves an outlay of cash, and some amount of risk. But these upgrades could result in a higher rental rate or a shorter vacancy time. When you are trying to make the most from your houses for rent in Georgia, you'll eventually come across the pets question.

Allowing pets in your property has obvious downsides, like potential damage to the property, and upsides, like happy, grateful dog owners who opt to stay in your property long-term to take advantage of the combination of a great place to live and one that allows their canine friend to live there.

The reason why landlords struggle with this question, among other things, is that not everyone should answer the question the same way. Instead, evaluate the situation as it pertains to you personally, and then use the information you gain to make the right choice about whether or not you'll choose to allow pets in your rentals.

To Start: A Pet Isn't the Same as an Assistance Animal

One key point to clarify from the beginning is that you do not want to put language in your lease that seems like it is preventing assistance animals from houses for rent in Georgia. Assistance animals that are recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act are both legally allowed to live with their owners and are usually so well-trained that they aren't likely to cause any major damages to your home any more often than a human resident would.

It's key to read up on what qualifies an animal as an assistance animal under the ADA. If they qualify, you'll need to allow them to avoid lawsuits but also to create positive relationships with your renters. By supporting their health through welcoming their assistance animal, as well as providing whatever accommodations they need, you're serving as a good, ethical landlord and also building loyalty with a renter.

Clarify the Rules With a Professional Pet Addendum

So, when you are just dealing with a pet who isn't an assistance animal, you'll want to make sure you don't just blanket 'allow pets' or ban them unilaterally. Your professionally written pet addendum to a lease can specify what kinds of pets are acceptable, which pets come with additional fees due to potential wear and tear on the property, and limits on how many pets are admissible, even if your renter is paying all required fees. 

Wet dog

Allowing pets is, in the end, a spectrum since some kinds and amounts of pets will have a higher chance of causing damage than others. You'll want to make sure that the fees aren't prohibitive unless you really are trying to discourage pets in the end. You also don't want to make them so low that you end up with mostly renters who have multiple pets, accelerating the wear and tear on your properties. Find your right balance.

If You Don't Allow Pets, You Shrink the Pool of Applicants

Restricting all pets is a valuable option, particularly for high-end properties or places with easily damaged furnishings like thick carpets or a lot of white walls, doors, or cabinets. If you are working with a recently refurbished property, the appeal of the property might be high enough to draw in a renter who doesn't have a pet, keeping the property looking nicer for longer. 

However, one of the reasons many rental property owners do allow pets within reason and with fees is because so many people have or want to have a pet. The applicant pool of potential renters shrinks when you rule out dogs and cats. If you have a rental cycle where you struggle to fill a rental without allowing pets, you might consider scaling up to allowing one cat or one dog, for instance, to see if the fee or pet rent can offset the expense of fixing up the wear and tear afterward.

Professional Property Managers Weigh In on the Pets Question

Your professional property manager for your houses for rent in Georgia has been working with this question for a while. They can help you evaluate your own situation, the rental market, and whether allowing pets is in your best interest. Property managers have seen the range of what 'wear and tear' looks like from different types and quantities of pets, so they can help you consider 'pet-friendly' upgrades that make it harder for pets to damage the property. They can also help you address assistance animals that keep you compliant with the ADA regulations and help your renters with assistance animals understand that they are welcome. Finally, they can help you make sure you have the important details laid out in your lease so that you apply them fairly to your renters' pet situations.